The Mid Kent Downs Countryside Partnership is a not-for-profit organisation that gives support and advice for countryside conservation projects in the central part of the Kent Downs AONB.
The Mid Kent Downs Countryside Partnership forms part of a network of Countryside Management Partnerships throughout Kent; it is supported by Kent County Council, Swale Borough Council and Maidstone Borough Council and is accommodated by the Kent Downs AONB Unit.
The Partnership works jointly with and has helped to develop many community countryside projects throughout this area of the Downs
What we do
The Mid Kent Downs Countryside Partnership carries out a range of activities to further the conservation of the Mid Kent Downs area, its special features and its wildlife. To do this sustainably, we work mainly through communities, and directly with landowners, sourcing funding and encouraging learning.
In a hawthorn leaf, our activities can be categorised as follows:
• Working with communities, encouraging volunteering
Developing project ideas, aiding group development, site management planning, sourcing grant funds, practical support.
• Sourcing external funding
We are active in seeking external funding for most of the work that we undertake, and help communities and volunteers to find grant money as and when they need it.
• Providing opportunities for wildlife Enabling and carrying out conservation management, restoration and replacement of key habitats, including chalk grassland, ancient woodland, hedgerows, ponds and verges.
• Conserving character
Enabling work to conserve traditional landscape features that comprise the Mid Kent Downs landscape, such as hedgerows, traditional orchards, ponds, copses and shaws. See the Kent Downs Landscape Design Guide for more details.
• Working at key sites
Our key sites include ‘designated sites’ such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), or often those which attract a lot of visitor interest or are owned by a public body. Examples include Boxley Warren SSSI, Cherry Downs in Lenham (owned by Lenham Parish Council) and Perry Wood in Selling (owned by Swale Borough Council).
• Developing landscape-scale projects
Major projects that have worked right across the Mid Kent Downs landscape have been: The Mid Kent Downs Orchards Project Landscape Enhancement Grants, and Landowner Partnership Projects Vital Links We also participate in and aid development of projects spanning the whole of the Kent Downs AONB and sometimes across Kent, in cooperation with other Countryside Management Projects, such as Interreg IVa and the Kent Free Tree Scheme
• Interpretation and education
As community support and volunteer work are so key to conserving the Mid Kent Downs landscape, we do whatever we can to inspire interest in and understanding of countryside issues. We do this by use of promotional newsletters, leaflets, interpretation panels, woodcarved sculpture, guided walks, school events and even outdoor theatre.
• Encouraging access
We work alongside the KCC Public Rights of Way team to encourage access to the countryside. Often access is promoted in interpretive material, such as leaflets and panels.